How Often Does The Typical LGHS Student Drink Alcohol?

There are discrepancies between student perceptions and self-reported data, on topics such as alcohol consumption, marijuana-use, bullying and sexting.

Knowing the answer to this and related questions can help students feel less “perceived” peer pressure. 

According to two student representatives from the group, “Shifting Perceptions,” high school students may drink alcohol, purely to feel like they’re “normal teenagers” (i.e., even when they don’t really want to).

That’s not breaking news.

What is eye-opening: Not as many students drink as much as they think.

How would they know?

“Shifting Perceptions” conducted a survey of handfuls of Los Gatos High School students last October. They asked questions on topics such as use of alcohol and marijuana, and experiences with bullying and sexting.

The survey results indicate some interesting and significant discrepancies.

For example, only 8 percent of the freshmen surveyed thought that “the typical LGHS student” never drank alcohol.

How different was that from the self-reports on the same survey? What percent of the students, divided into class of 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 say?

91 percent of freshmen never drank alcohol, 59 percent of sophomores never drank alcohol, 53 percent of juniors never drank alcohol, and 37 percent of seniors never drank alcohol.

The “Shifting Perceptions” representatives stressed that these results help students who don’t want to drink alcohol to feel okay. These “shifting” perceptions can be a tremendous relief. Who wants to feel abnormal?

What about the grayer points? For example, what percentage of students drink alcohol weekly?

According to the self-reports on the same survey, 2 percent of the freshmen, 7 percent of the sophomores, 6 percent of the juniors, and 16 percent of the seniors drink alcohol on a weekly basis.

Perceptions? 33 percent of the freshmen, 20 percent of the sophomores, 35 percent of the juniors, and 46 percent of the seniors thought that “the typical LGHS student” drank alcohol weekly.

Inaccurate perceptions, again.

We can feel “more relieved,” but then again, it takes just one alcohol- or marijuana-related car accident to remind us that we need to keep drunk drivers off the streets.

Here are the more hair-raising results.

3 percent of the seniors answered “Yes, regularly” to the question, “Have you ever driven under the influence of alcohol?”

13 percent of the seniors answered “Yes, regularly,” to the question, “Have you ever driven after smoking marijuana?”

What are your thoughts?

Grace “Megumi” Fleming is a member of the Los Gatos Moms Council, regularly attends CASA meetings, and practices hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in San Jose.

Source: “Survey Results, October 2012”, presented at Community Against Substance Abuse, or CASA general meeting, on Dec. 13. Percentages surveyed: 40 percent of freshman, 37 percent of sophomores, 38 percent of juniors, 46 percent of seniors.

CASA general meetings are open to the public and are held the second Thursdays of every month, 10-11:30 a.m. at Los Gatos High School community room. CASA provides funding to various community organizations, including Shifting Perceptions.

Please contact Karla Albright, executive director of Saferides, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer adult to drive students on Friday and Saturday nights kmalbright@gmail.com. They are need of one more volunteer this Saturday.

More information:

“Shifting Perceptions” is comprised of students and Nancy Offer, a high school advisor. They regularly meet with LGHS Principal Markus Autrey and provide useful information to parents, teachers, counselors, as well as the students.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dyan Chan February 07, 2013 at 04:29 AM
Thank you, Grace. Yes, this is important information to share and for our teens to be aware of! I went to a presentation a few years ago that showed similar results about other risky behaviors for kids in a broader area (I forget whether it was county- or state-wide), and they stressed the same thing -- that it is helpful to re-set the norms for ourselves and our kids. In addition to helping our kids make healthy choices, it also helps us adults be less worried!
Julian Groft February 07, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Its all this main stream rap and all this reality shows that really put the spot light on drinking and drugs....it makes me sad to be a teen today,
Grace "Megumi" Fleming February 08, 2013 at 10:25 PM
CASA meetings pack a lot of information. There was much I DIDN'T mention in the article, such as Officer Leyton Howard's report on a "marijuana and alcohol epidemic" at LGHS, how the THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) potency has increased 172 times since 1992, a new trend in making and smoking "honey oil" (like hashish), and brain damage resulting from marijuana use before age 18. Who's doing something about it? Parenting Continuum is planning an educational program on marijuana use and abuse in the spring. Support group for parents of teens is starting at the United Methodist Church. CASSY (Counseling and Support Services for Youth) at LGHS has a group for students who have family members who abuse substances. How do I know all this? Because I attend CASA meetings! The next meeting is on Valentines Day, 10-11:30 a.m. at Los Gatos High School community room. Come check it out : )
Karla Albright February 09, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Great article. Thanks for highlighting these important issues. Shifting perceptions is about aligning perception with reality. Yes The majority of LGHS students do not use substances. However as LD Hirxhklau noted, kids do not come to campus on Monday morning proudly exclaiming, Wow, I had an awesome weekend sober!" Yet the kids who proclaim their stories of silly actions while under the influence get a lot of press time, conveying the image that everyone who is anyone is partying. This is just not true and we need to empower those who chose to remain sober. CASA meetings welcome anyone from the community. We have a no host lunch afterward.


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